Charles Wilder Oakes was born in Rockland, Maine and raised just south in Port Clyde, on the St. George peninsula. His father was a life long fisherman and his mother packed sardines at the town canning factory. Much of his inspiration comes from growing up there, but also through a filter of two childhood mystical experiences -- seeing and communicating with an angel as his first memory and a NDE (Near Death Experience), going into the light at about eight years old, when he caught a cramp swimming and drowned in a lobster pound. Fortunately, for him there was a RN nearby who heard all the commotion and dove in and pulled him out of the water and got him resuscitated. Oakes never talked about either of these experiences until he was well into his teen years when he told his trusted companion high school sweetheart (who happened to resemble the angel he saw as a child but that is a whole other story). These experiences inform his artwork and imbue it with a sense of drama, as well as a mystical and spiritual quality of home and longing for home. It has been said Oakes strives for themes that transcend physical place and reach for a spiritual setting we can all trace roots to. These are human experiences and feelings we all can relate to. Though he had some training in art (he attended the University of Maine), Oakes's approach has always been intuitive and auto-didactic. He has had solo shows at the University of Maine at Augusta, the Portland Public Library, and too many Maine galleries to list. Oakes has also been a participant in solo and group shows throughout Maine and his work has been featured at art fairs in New York City and Washington, D.C., including a solo show with Fahey, Bodell ( now Umbrella Arts ) Gallery in New York City. He has been the subject of a Salt Institute for Documentary Studies documentary, and both Down East magazine and the Maine Sunday Telegram have published feature length articles about him. He is the subject of a 2012 half hour documentary, "Charles Wilder Oakes and the Muses of Port Clyde," by director/cinematographer Dale Schierholt (Will Barnet, "Tracing the Soul of the Work"). Wilder was also interviewed by noted author Charlie Wing for over 7 hours for a his book, "Salt in Their Veins," where Oakes speaks in depth for the first time about the experiences he told his first love high school sweetheart for the first time. "Salt in Their Veins" is available on Amazon.
Charles Wilder Oakes in front of a detail of his painting